I remember when I was younger, and the Internet wasn’t that common in households, many people were exchanging postal letters. At the age of 9 or 10 my mother suggested me having a penpal, so I can practise the Hungarian grammar. Our language is pretty easy, so we need to learn a lot in order to have a good grammar. I said, why not?
I found my first Hungarian penpal in a magazine, and we have been exchanging letters for years. The only thing I hated doing in exchanging letters that my mother always checked what I wrote, and she told me only “there are 2 mistakes in your letter”… and I needed to find it. However, now I can say only lots of thanks to her, as at least I have a good grammar. After a while she stopped reading my letters, and I started writing to more people in Hungary.
At the age of 14 I started writing in English, to a girl from Jersey (Channel Islands, England). She had a very serious illness, cystic fibrosis, and unfortunately she died when she became 20. It was about 5-6 years ago. She was very lovely, she enjoyed her life as much as possible. She told me she doesn’t have so much time left, but I didn’t want to imagine how a person can be so happy with this fact. She, Loz, taught me a lot of things about life.
I became penpals with other people all around the world and exchanging letters with them till now. Nowadays I write letters in English, German and Italian. It’s my main hobby, and I would never give it up.
Many people ask me from where I find the penpals, and why it is good. Why I do this, why I spend money if emailing would be free? Well, my answers:
…are more personal. You can include some little gifts, and you can see the handwriting. You can also write on some beautiful stationaries. You cannot get chopsticks or Hello Kitty socks from Korea with an email!
…make you happy. I think there is nothing better when you go out to check the mail box, and you get a letter without any bills.
…are real. While you can just delete your emails with a click, a real letter holds more memory.
And, where do I get penpals from? I usually use 4 sites to find some relevant penpals.
1. Facebook Groups
Facebook is the most common site to get penpals from other countries. If you write “penpal” into the search tab, you can find many groups related to penpalling. I’m a member of many groups, so I don’t want to advertise any of them. In the groups you can answer to others’ posts, but you can also create yours. One of the disadvantage is that there are many people (especially men) from certain countries, who cannot really respect your wishes, so they will bomb you with their messages. For example, I prefer writing with girls, and when I write in my post I would like to exchange letters with females only, I’m often called lesbian by these guys. Age group is between 18 to 60.
It’s a site where the registration is free, and you have your own profile. You can set from which countries do you want to get messages, from which age group, so it’s a little bit more safe than Facebook. You can look for other profiles on this site and write to members. The advantage is that you can look for people from countries, while on Facebook you cannot really search with this criteria. Age group is between 16 to 40.
It’s a more simple site, where the registration is also free. Although you create a profile for yourself, it doesn’t take so much time like Interpals, as the introduction here is short. You can write to people from other countries. The disadvantage is that sometimes the site doesn’t get notification about incoming emails, so the responses comes after a long time, or you just forgot about your own profile to check. Age group is between 10 to 30.
Sometimes there are some swaps when you need to write an introduction letter to someone, and someone will write to you. So you get 2 penpals in one time. I rarely join these swaps, because it has a disadvantage that you cannot select your penpal. Of course you need to send the 1st letter in order to get a good rating, but if the age difference is too big, then you (or the another person) may not like to exchange letters with you. However, I have some penpals from Swapbot, and I really like them. Age group is between 18 to 60.